United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
ORDER AND MEMORANDUM ON DEFENDANTS’ MOTION TO
TRANSFER VENUE (DOCKET NO. 14)
TIMOTHY S. HILLMAN, DISTRICT JUDGE.
MacNaughton, M.D. (“Plaintiff”), sued The Paul
Revere Life Insurance Company (“Paul Revere”) and
Unum Group (“Unum”) (collectively
“Defendants”) for long-term disability benefits
under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974
(“ERISA”), 29 U.S.C. ch. 18 § 1001 et seq.
Defendants move to transfer the case to the District of
Kansas. (Docket No. 14). For the following reasons,
Defendants’ motion is denied.
a resident of Kansas, received long-term disability coverage
through her employer, Alliance Radiology, P.A
(“Alliance”). (Docket No. 1 at 2, 7). Paul
Revere, an insurance company formed under the laws of the
Commonwealth of Massachusetts, issued the Alliance plan.
(Docket No. 1 at 2, 7). Paul Revere is a subsidiary of Unum,
an insurance holding company formed under the laws of the
State of Delaware. (Docket No. 1 at 2–3).
August 2007, Plaintiff filed a claim for benefits related to
ischemic optic neuropathy, which caused her to experience
“blurred, hazy vision, eye strain, eye twitching,
headaches, and [double vision].” (Docket No. 1 at 7).
Unum approved Plaintiff’s claim effective September 2,
2007. (Docket No. 1 at 9). It continued to pay benefits to
Plaintiff through December 15, 2017, at which Unum sent
Plaintiff a letter terminating her claim because she was
allegedly “no longer physically impaired from working
in her occupation.” (Docket No. 1 at 9).
appealed the termination. (Docket No. 1 at 9). Unum upheld
its termination in a letter dated September 20, 2018. (Docket
No. 1 at 10). Plaintiff filed an ERISA action in this Court
to recover her benefits, and Defendants now move to transfer
venue to the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas.
(Docket No. 14).
28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), a district court may transfer a
civil action to another district where it might have been
brought “for the convenience of parties and witnesses,
in the interest of justice.” A defendant “bears
the burden of showing both that an adequate alternative forum
exists and that considerations of convenience and judicial
efficiency strongly favor litigating the claim in the
alternative forum.” See Iragorri v. Int’l
Elevator, Inc., 203 F.3d 8, 12 (1st Cir. 2000).
“[T]here is ordinarily a strong presumption in favor of
the plaintiff’s choice of forum.” Piper
Aircraft Co. v. Reyno, 454 U.S. 235, 255 (1981). This
presumption may be overcome, however, when considerations of
convenience and judicial efficiency “clearly point
towards trial in the alternative forum.” Id.
determine whether “considerations of convenience and
judicial efficiency” point towards trial in the
alternative forum, courts weigh the private and public
interests at stake. Factors in the private interest analysis
include “the relative ease of access to sources of
proof; availability of compulsory process for attendance of
unwilling [witnesses], and the cost of obtaining attendance
of willing witnesses; possibility of [a] view of premises,
if [a] view would be appropriate to the action; and all other
practical problems that make trial of a case easy,
expeditious and inexpensive.” Gulf Oil Corp. v.
Gilbert, 330 U.S. 501, 508 (1947). Factors in the public
interest analysis include the “administrative
difficulties of docket congestion; the general goal of
‘having localized controversies decided at home,
’ and concomitantly, ease of access to the proceedings
on the part of interested citizens; the trier’s
relative familiarity with the appropriate rules of decision;
and the burdens of jury duty.” Iragorri, 203
F.3d at 12 (quoting Gilbert, 330 U.S. at
does not dispute that she could have brought this action in
the District of Kansas. (Docket No. 20). And Defendants admit
that the private interest factors are neutral in this
case.(Docket No. 15 at 6). Thus, the
parties’ disagreement centers on whether public
interest factors point towards trial in the District of
Kansas. See Iragorri, 203 F.3d at 12. Defendants
offer four reasons that the public interest factors favor
transfer. (Docket No. 15 at 6–13).
Defendants contend that the District of Kansas is the only
forum with a local interest in resolution of this case.
(Docket No. 15 at 6). The Court agrees that the District of
Kansas has a strong local interest in this case. Plaintiff
and Alliance reside in Kansas, the alleged breach occurred in
Kansas,  and Alliance has offered this plan to
other employees in Kansas. But Defendants err in suggesting
that Massachusetts does not also have an interest in this
case. Paul Revere is a Massachusetts-based corporation
(Docket No. 1 at 2), and states have an interest in ensuring
that their corporations comply with governing law, cf.
Ovist v. Unum Life Ins. Co. of Am., No.
4:17-CV-40113-TSH, 2018 WL 3853739, at *6 (D. Mass. May 2,
2018). Because Kansas and Massachusetts both have a local
interest in the resolution of this case, the Court finds this
Defendants contend that the docket at the District of
Massachusetts is more congested than the docket at the
District of Kansas. (Docket No. 15 at 7). The difference in
caseload, however, is only 20 cases, and the difference in
average time for disposition is roughly three months. (Docket
Nos. 15 at 7, 15-1 at 2–3). Under these circumstances,
the Court declines to find that docket congestion weighs in
favor of transfer.
Defendants maintain that this case has no relation to
Massachusetts. (Docket No. 15 at 10–11). The Court
disagrees. Paul Revere is a Massachusetts-based corporation,
and at least one medical review occurred in Massachusetts.
(Docket Nos. 1 at 2, 16-1 at 2, 21 at 2). Plaintiff,
moreover, has alleged additional facts which, if taken as
true, would further relate this claim to
Massachusetts. For example, she asserts that (1) some
claim handling took place in Massachusetts, (2) Unum’s
doctor issued a report from Massachusetts, and (3) the appeal
information and claim file were ...